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India's 'Vision' is to Connect Iran's Chabahar Port to INSTC, Shipping Minister Sonowal Says

Chabahar Port - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.07.2022
The 7,200-kilometer International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) envisages seamless connectivity between St. Petersburg in Russia to the ports in Iran and India, as noted during a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 6th Caspian Sea Summit last month.
India’s “vision” is to connect Chabahar's Shahid Beheshti terminal in Iran to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and reach Central Asian countries through the connectivity initiative, the South Asian nation’s ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Sunday.

“We urge all the representatives and stakeholders to come forward with suggestions to reduce the transportation time and cost further to make a cheaper, shorter, faster and more reliable route from India to Iran and Central Asia,” Sonwal said in his introductory remarks at the "Chabahar Day" conference in Mumbai.

The "Chabahar Day" event was attended by the ambassadors of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as other high-level officials from these countries.
Sonowal's comments linking the fate of Chabahar to that of the INSTC came days after the first batch of cargo from Russia's Chekhov reached India's Mumbai port, as per media reports. The cargo first traveled on a train from Russia through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan before it reached Iran, following the INSTC route. The cargo was then taken on a ship from Iran's Bandar Abbas port to Mumbai port.
India, on its part, has invested millions of dollars in the development of the Shahid Beheshti terminal at Chabahar, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earmarking $500 million for the port’s development during a visit to Tehran in 2016. The Indian government is also contemplating participation in developing the railway line between Chabahar and Zahedan, which is located at the Afghanistan border.
Sonowal remarked at the conference that Chabahar could play a “vital role” in boosting trade in the region.
According to the Indian release, foreign dignitaries present at the conference agreed on the “potential” of Chabahar to “boost development” in the landlocked Central Asian region.
The remarks by the shipping minister on the significance of Chabahar came a couple of days after Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar endorsed full membership for Iran in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming Leader’s Summit in Samarkand on September 15-16.
“The SCO members will have the opportunity to use the facilities of the Chabahar port in Iran,” Jaishankar said while addressing the SCO’s Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting in Tashkent on Friday.
India has been backing operationalizing Chabahar port since the resumption of negotiations between the P5+1 (China France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, after President Joe Biden came to power in the US in 2020.
The previous Trump administration unilaterally pulled the US out of the JCPOA in 2018, creating uncertainty around the feasibility of Indian investments in Chabahar. While India’s operations in Chabahar were exempted from Donald Trump’s sanctions against Iran, Indian companies were held back by the fear of “secondary sanctions.”
During a visit to Turkmenistan in April, India’s then-President Ram Nath Kovind said New Delhi had taken steps to “operationalize” Chabahar port.
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